New Survey data: Business travel spotlights “Duty of Care,” “Sharing Economy” and booking trends

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New Survey data: Business travel spotlights “Duty of Care,” “Sharing Economy” and booking trendsTravel Leaders Group released its latest survey data specific to its business travelers

Travel Leaders Group released its latest survey data specific to its business travelers, where more than one in 10 participating corporate travel agent specialists indicated they have handled a “Duty of Care” situation involving a business traveler – and the top three circumstances where clients required assistance were airline emergencies, civil unrest in international countries, and snowstorms.  Additional findings from the survey revealed a significant increase in one segment of the “sharing economy” – alternative ground transportation – and a plurality of respondents have said that their business travel bookings are up over one year ago.

The data on business travel is based on responses from 354 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents who indicated that 50% or more of their portfolio is made up of business travelers. These results are part of the larger 2016 Fall Travel Trends Survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group from July 28 – August 24, 2016, in which 1,145 travel agent experts from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units.

While we always hope for no situations that require our corporate travel agents to deploy ‘Duty of Care’ assistance on behalf of their travelers, that’s simply not realistic,” noted Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko, CTC. “What’s most important is the safety and well-being of our clients. We are partners, working together to minimize any potential issues and handle anything that may inhibit business travelers from safely meeting their goals and objectives.”

Duty of Care

The concept of “Duty of care” has grown considerably in recent years with regard to business travel management.  In this survey, when asked “Have you ever been involved with a ‘Duty of Care’ situation for one of your business travel clients?” 11.3% of Travel Leaders Group’s business-focused travel agents responded affirmatively.

The Top 5 situations that required these business travel agents to assist their clients included:

1 Airline emergency
2 (tie) Civil unrest in an international country
2 (tie) Snowstorm
4 Terrorist incident
5 Hurricane

Hotel Bookings for Business Travel

When asked “What percentage of your business travel clients add a hotel reservation to their travel itinerary?” nearly 70% (69.5%) of Travel Leaders Group agents reported that more than half of their clients request a hotel booking in addition to their airline reservation; while 20.7% stated that between 21-50% of their business travel clients require a hotel booking in addition to their airfare.

When asked “Which hotel category would you say the majority of your business travel clients book?” 0% of Travel Leaders Group agents stated the “Luxury” and “Upper Upscale” categories, while 27.7% indicate “Upscale” and “Upper Midscale” categories.

Car Rentals for Business Travel

When asked “What percentage of your business travel clients add a car rental reservation to their travel itinerary?” 6% of Travel Leaders Group agents reported that more than half of their clients request a car rental in addition to their airline reservation; while 36.7% stated that between 21-50% of their business travel clients require a rental car in addition to their airfare.

Sharing Economy

With increased options for business travelers in both accommodations and ground transportation, Travel Leaders Group’s business travel agents provided insights into how many clients take advantage of these shared services.

When asked, “What percentage of your business travel clients are using an alternative supplier for their accommodations?” the responses were:

Fall 2016 Fall 2015
0% of my clients 55.4% 55.6%
1-10% of my clients 34.1% 29.6%
11% or more of my clients 10.5% 14.8%

When asked, “What percentage of your business travel clients are using an alternative supplier for their ground transportation?” the responses were:

Fall 2016 Fall 2015
0% of my clients 14.3% 33.8%
1-10% of my clients 31.1% 33.8%
11% or more of my clients 54.6% 32.4%

As some business travelers embrace alternatives to long-established suppliers, companies must review their travel policies and how they accommodate ‘duty of care’ going forward.  While traditional transportation suppliers still command the majority of the market, there is a shift and businesses can’t ignore this trend,” noted Gabe Rizzi, Chief Sales Officer and Head of Travel Leaders Corporate.  “Our commitment as a leading travel management company is to guide our clients through this new frontier and make sure they are accounting for the needs of their travelers while, at the same time, keeping them safe.  Additionally, we must provide accurate visibility into their travel data and keep them apprised of savings opportunities which, in turn, deliver real ROI on their travel spend.”

Premium Cabin (First/Business) vs. Coach

When asked “For your 2016 year-to-date business travel air bookings, what percentage of clients are purchasing ‘front of the cabin’?” a majority (63.5%) of survey participants indicated over 10% of their clients are flying in the front of the plane, a slight decrease from the previous two years.

 

Fall 2016 Fall 2015 Fall 2014 Fall 2013 Fall 2012
11% or More of Bookings in First/Business Class 63.5% 67.4% 66.8% 55.9% 51.3%
1-10% of Bookings in First/Business Class 31.4% 28.5% 30.9% 38.9% 44.6%
0% of Bookings in First/Business Class 5.1% 4.1% 2.3% 5.2% 4.1%

When asked for the top reasons why their business travelers fly in coach, the top response was “company policy” (54.9%) followed by “cost” (35.6%) and “Lack of available of premium economy” (2.7%).

Travel Leaders Group also asked specifically about international business travel air bookings and reservations for premium cabin seats. Two-thirds (66.6%) of Travel Leaders Group’s business-focused travel agents indicated that over 10% of their clients are flying in the front of the plane and 29% stated 1-10% of their international air bookings are in First/Business Class.

Year-Over-Year Comparable Business Travel Bookings

When asked “Comparing your overall 2016 business travel bookings so far to your 2015 business travel bookings at this time last year, which is true?” approximately 75% stated bookings were equal to or higher than this time last year.

They’re higher 39.0%
They’re about even 35.6%
They’re lower 25.4%

When specifically asked about business travel bookings to Europe, 68.9% stated bookings were on par or higher than this time last year (20.3% stated “higher” and 48.6% stated “the same”), while 31.1% stated bookings to Europe were lower.

Travel Leaders Group is one of North America’s largest travel companies – encompassing nearly one-third of all travel agents – and generated gross travel sales of approximately $21 billion in 2015. Travel Leaders Group is a leader in both the retail travel agency space and corporate travel, and it consistently ranks as one of the top travel companies nationwide.

About Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group (www.travelleadersgroup.com) is transforming travel with a commitment to our vacation and business travel clients via our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers – through our beginnings as Carlson Leisure Group, a division of Carlson Companies, TraveLeaders and Tzell Travel Group and through the additions of Nexion, Vacation.com and Protravel International – Travel Leaders Group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands. With annual sales approaching $21 billion through over 7,000 locations, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest traditional travel agency companies.

Read more here.

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